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Address Legal Constraints

Local governments are subject to a variety of restrictions from state and federal governments, labor contracts, and civil service rules. These restrictions come with costs – either in the form of increased outlays for program expenses or reduced flexibility to address management and policy issues. Here are a few methods for dealing with those constraints.

  • Conduct a mandate review. Sometimes practices can build up around a mandate that are not really necessary to satisfy the letter of the mandate. Inventory your programs and indicate in the inventory any specific mandates that impact a program. Then form a committee independent of the personnel who perform the program to see if the mandate really does demand the full extent of the program being provided.
  • Lobby. Collective action by local governments can often be used to change state regulations. 
  • Charter. Charter organizations (such as charter schools) can often operate outside of traditional government constraints. 
  • Outsource. Outsourcing might be effective for addressing constraints on personnel. Private firms may not be subject to same rules as public employers.


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